Hey y’all! Happy ‘almost’ Fall season!
I had an interesting realization about the way I write the other day while talking to my bestie Owen and I was wondering if any of you have encountered this:
Do you write better via computer or with paper and pen?
I’ve written with paper and pen most of my writing career, liking the freedom of taking a notebook anywhere and jotting down dialogue or scenes wherever I may. I also strangely LOVE the smell of ink on paper. (Shush. I know…) I have dozens of hand written notebooks stored in a cupboard. I even wrote a 900 page book the summer of my seventh grade year. Hand written. I got some wicked callouses during those three months. Ahhhh good times.
Now see, I ALWAYS thought I’d be an organic (paper and pen) writer since I had no computer to call my own until the 8th grade. But even when the wide, wide world of the internet and keyboards opened up to me the wonders of Mechanical writing, I still preferred to write first and then transcribe everything over to floppy disk. YES I used floppy disks >_> I think I still have them as souvenirs actually.
My love of paper and pen only increased when on several occasions my stories were wiped from existence thanks to dastardly technological mishaps. No, mechanical writing did not endear me to continue using this method at all. (Evil devil spawn! HISSSSSSSS!!!) I even write about my near “table flip and quit” moment in a previous blog.
When I made the commitment to organize my writing and started this blog, I noticed that certain stories, namely my NaNoWriMo endeavors, simply refused to be written in any notebook. Every time I sat down to try to write a scene or even a dialogue narrative, I drew a blank. Like…..WHAT? Did my mojo leave me? Do I hate my story that much?!
Well my friends it was neither and I’m very happy to announce I discovered WHY all by myself like a big grown-up writer! Although I did have help, as ever, from my friend Owen. Here’s the scoop:
Whenever I write organically, it’s basically my free-form wish-fulfillment. I write what comes to my mind and the characters lead my pen on adventures. Whether or not I use the scene in the actual manuscript doesn’t matter. Using this method, I get to discover nuances of the characters and settings that I might never have discovered otherwise. I get to throw things at them on the fly and see how they’ll react. It’s like Improv on paper and it’s very satisfying.
For my NaNo stories though– well, STORY (working title “Hourglass Crescendo”)– I preconceived from beginning to end after the initial draft was utter crap. I think it scared me straight to the dark side seeing how badly I needed some organization in my life reading it. So in addition to the revamp, I was trying out the snowflake method and being logical for once in my life. Mix this into the cauldron of my writer’s mind and ho HO! Look what happened! Suddenly, I realized I was the boss. This story was MINE and it had a beginning, middle and end. Mechanical writing helped me to achieve this. It’s good to be the king! Queen–whatever.
As I typed out very organized bulleted scene lists, the characters became my PUPPETS. I moved them forward through the highs and lows of the plot with the careful amalgamation of words on a screen. I made them bleed when I desired and made them achingly happy when the scene needed a lift. I had the liberty of editing or even deleting entire paragraphs with the sweep of a mouse and the click of a button when it didn’t fit the puzzle. No more willy nilly wish-fulfillment or characters being sneaky. It was all very militant compared to my normal style and I had to admit I kind of liked it.
HA! I HAVE THE POWWEEERRRR!!!
But it ONLY WORKED for “Hourglass Crescendo” and I realized it was because of my strict policy for this novel that it came to be this way. To write this, I had to have my screen list up in one window and my novel draft open in another. I had to follow what was already written. The entire novel was done already; all the work laid out in neat bullets and Acts for me right there. No need for playing or experimentation. No need to lob improv at the characters because they already had a specific role to play. With this novel, it was all business.
Does it make sense? I hope it does. It made sense in my head anyway but that’s where a lot of writers trip up, eh? Getting it down the way you saw it.
Now this is my first novel using the Snowflake method and being organized like a proper writer should be. I don’t know if this Mechanical type of writing will be the right answer for all my “serious” manuscripts but I’m happy that I CAN write this way. I have given myself another tool in my arsenal to use to get the stories out of my head into in a publishing house. And all this came about because I choked down my fear and tried something new.
Maybe this blog thing was a good idea after all. Mechanically speaking 😉